What We Know About Central Perk On Friends

While it wasn't the place where everybody knows your name, it was the place where you could sit down on a couch, never order a thing, hang out with your friends, and maybe even meet the next love of your life. Known as Central Perk, it was the 1990s TV coffee house that made coffee houses a thing, thanks to the iconic sitcom, "Friends."

When "Friends" first premiered in 1994, Monica (Courtney Cox), her brother Ross (David Schwimmer), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) were all hanging out with no thought of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) in their minds. Suddenly, she burst into Central Perk in a wedding gown and became a waitress there, according to Bustle. Before we could blink, making Central Perk even more ... central ... to the sitcom right from the start.

Eventually, Central Perk seemed to become a character unto its own, with more plot points happening there than many other sets, especially those memorable moments like Ross and Rachel's first kiss after she'd already closed up for the night (via Entertainment Weekly).

A sign of the Central Perk times

Two Central Perk signs helped define the set and the show. One of those signs is actually the one painted on the window telling everyone the name of the establishment. During the show's first season, that sign was nothing but a painted backdrop, Screen Rant reports. As the show caught on and became a hit, the producers wanted things to look more like a New York City street, so a more elaborate set was created on an L.A. soundstage to make Central Perk and its iconic sign into a true window and more lifelike.

Then comes a smaller sign you can't always see. It's the "reserved" sign that ensures our favorite six friends always have that center couch to relax on. In fact, that couch was originally supposed to be beige, according to Screen Rant, but NBC wanted a different color, so the couch became a rust color and came from a basement at Warner Bros. Studios.

Eating and drinking at Central Perk

Yes, there really was coffee in those cups, according to Screen Rant. However, cups filled with espresso were reserved for the stars. The extras had to use empty cups. Central Perk also boasted an extensive menu of different types of coffee before coffee houses became what they are today. Included on the set's blackboard menu were Manhattan Mochas, Urban Tribe Java, and Long Island Cream.

You could also get a bite to eat while sipping on some refreshing and flavorful caffeine, as Central Perk also offered a menu of desserts and sandwiches. Screen Rant observes that Joey was one such character who might grab a muffin out of one of the well-placed trays when nobody was looking. And, of course, when Rachel wasn't around and then moved onto bigger and better things, you always had Gunther there to serve you. In fact, James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther from the start, worked as a barista in a coffee house when he landed his "Friends" gig, according to BuzzFeed.

Central Perk wasn't supposed to be Central Perk

Okay, the coffee house that made coffee houses what they are today was supposed to be ... a diner. That's right, Central Perk was originally conceived of as a New York City diner. The network worried that a coffee house would not have the broad appeal a diner would, according to Screen Rant.

After all, the show aired on Thursday nights to lead off a lineup that also included legendary sitcom "Seinfeld," and that show's character comfort spot was a corner diner. Apparently, the producers won the fight and Central Perk went on to become what it is, with its sign and logo recognized the world over (via Screen Rant).

And what would "Friends" have been if we couldn't see our six BFFs sitting comfortably on a couch that seemed to be only theirs, as they pondered the world, their lives, and their futures with comedic genius for a half hour each week?